The Battle of Baquba

I’m a little busy today with some other things, but everyone ought to read this article by Michael Yon about the major offensive against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

It’s always puzzled me that, given we are fighting Al-Qaeda in Iraq, that some people think walking away sounds like a great idea.  Walking away when things got tough is what got us a reputation for cowardice that made Al-Qaeda think they could attack us with impunity.    There is no walking away from Iraq.   We must finish what we have started.

7 thoughts on “The Battle of Baquba”

  1. This is a thorny subject, but I don’t think you’re considering the larger picture.

    1) AQ is a small portion of the problem in Iraq. A great majority of the problem is sectarian infighting amongst the locals, not foreign AQ interlopers.

    2) It’s pretty universally accepted (read the NIE estimates, you know the ones written by those pesky peace niks at CIA, DOD, NSA, the JCS, etc) that we’re creating terrorists faster than we’re killing them. If the end game is fighting terror, we’re not helping the effort by pouring gas on the fire with our continued, futile efforts at preventing sectarian strife. We’re making the problem worse, not better.

    3) The idea that “we should fight them there instead of here” makes less than no sense–there’s nothing that stops rogue terrorists from coming here. It’s like saying “I’m going to build a super dirty hospital to finally take on all the germs and bacteria and viruses once and for all”. If AQ had the capability of striking us here, they’re going to do it whether or not we occupy Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people.

    As for the idea that AQ thought they could attack us with impunity, sorry, but that’s complete nonsense. It’s also well established that OBL wanted us to come after them and get bogged down occupying a foreign country quagmire style. He got what he wanted, and we’re giving it to him every day. The only thing he got wrong was that we’re in Iraq, not Afghanistan.

  2. How about this for an alternate narrative:

    American troops in Iraq are fighting various organizations that *call themselves* Al-Qaeda, and who have no operational connection with the organization that conducted the 9/11 attacks, only rhetorical connections.

    Those organizations specifically choose to claim the Al-Qaeda name solely because Americans see it as disturbing and frightening.

    These organizations are interested in killing American troops and any Iraqis they see as being allied with American troops.

    The individuals who comprise these organizations are normal, ordinary people who are motivated in their hostility by the presence of American troops in their home towns. Some of their advisors and trainers are Iranian or Saudi, but the actual trigger pullers and bomb planters are locals, and are mainly motivated by local issues.

    If no American troops were present in their home towns, very few of them would have the motivation to travel around the world and attack Americans in America. They might have the desire, but very few of them would have the willingness, persistence, and operational capacity/connections to Saudi oil money to make it actually happen.

  3. I’m not a particularly good writer, and it would really take a book to adequately explain these issues. So I’m just going to try to bang out the main points. Please excuse any oversimplification or bluntness.

    At heart we’re a cultural conflict, and one that we can’t get out of by unilaterally calling a truce and bringing our soldiers home.

    You can argue that Iraq was the wrong battle at the wrong time, but its a battle was going to have to happen eventually.

    If you look at what the people are fighting for in Iraq, I’ll bet you find that very few of them are fighting because Americans did something horrible and evil to them or their family. For most, its to recover honor lost because an ‘outsider’ managed to come in and take control and/or because they wish to impose their religion on others. Those are not good reasons to start murdering people, and as the world gets smaller and smaller due to technology, its will become impossible to share the planet with a culture that promotes those reasons as such.

    This issue exists to greater and lesser extents in the entire Arab/Muslim world.

    The same cultural defects also stifle their economy. So they sit there and see their own society failing while the west is successful, and of course its all because of an evil conspiracy by the western infidels, rather than because of their own failings. So they try to figure out how to destroy us. A large disenfranchised and pissed off population will eventually explode and lash out at those around them.

    The war in Iraq, the whole weapons of mass destruction thing aside, was really an initial attempt (admittedly bungled pretty badly) at trying to fix the cultural defects. Because if that doesn’t work, the only option for us long term would be genocide. And its worth pointing out at this point, they we have the physical ability to succeed in a genocidal campaign, yet we choose not to go down that road. While the people we’re fighting against, given the opportunity, wouldn’t hesitate to wipe us all out.

    Some would argue that the whole problem was caused by earlier wrongs committed by the Unite States. While we haven’t been saints, we also haven’t done anything worse than any other country does in the normal jockeying for power that goes on in the world, and in fact have behaved a whole lot better than most. We’re the target because we’re the most successful. If we fall, they will turn to the next most successful, and so on.

  4. Just curious, but did you miss this when you linked to it?

    “When we eviscerated Fallujah, Al Qaeda, who had not been here before, swarmed in and grew like a tumor. There were many insurgent groups already infecting Iraq with many conflicting ideologies and goals, and just as many opportunistic thugs, and some that only needed the band-aids and aspirin of open markets and electricity and a feeling of normality. But Al Qaeda has been trying to start a civil war here for several years; chaos speeds the decay they feed on.”

    Yon’s basically saying the same that I’m saying–AQ wasn’t a problem in Iraq (which is, BTW, most Shia, and AQ is Sunni) before we came to town, but we created a condition in Iraq where they can flourish.

    Funny, the neocon and freeper blathersphere talks about Yon like he’s their folk hero and the purveyor of truth that all those weenie libs to the left of John McCain’s newfound hawk personna can’t comprehend. But read this:

    “But when we flattened parts of Fallujah not once, but twice, primarily in response to the murders of four of our people, we helped create a spectacle of injustice and chaos, the very conditions in which Al Qaeda thrives.”

    Crikey, listen to that! Next thing you know he’s going to break out the patchouli and the bongos and sing kum-bye-ya.

  5. I don’t think anyone’s arguing we didn’t make mistakes. Even if one thinks it was a bad idea to get involved in Iraq in the first place, and I’ll grant there are a lot of good arguments along that line, the real question is whether pulling out now is the right thing to do. I don’t think it is.

  6. “the real question is whether pulling out now is the right thing to do. I don’t think it is.”

    No argument from me there.

    The problem is that the “stay the course” argument doesn’t survive much scrutiny. Even our military and intelligence departments don’t think we’re effectively combating terror by staying, and we’re simply prolonging the inevitable in Iraq.

    Think about it this way–it took a HUGE army under the control of one of the nastiest dictators in the region to keep a lid on the hodge podge of tribes that is Iraq. Why should we think even 200K American troops under the control of a country on the other side of the planet will be able to control and pacify something that SH could barely do, and only with really draconian means?

    It’s ludicrous.

    So…pretty clearly staying isn’t a good idea. Leaving certainly isn’t problem free, I’m not saying that. But its the lesser of two very distinct evils.

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